After three years of design,
engineering and assembly, Aerojet today delivered the Deorbit Propulsion Stage
(DPS) for the X-38, NASA’s full-scale prototype for the International Space
Station emergency Crew Return Vehicle.

The DPS makes its “first flight” today to Johnson Space Center (JSC) in
Houston aboard NASA’s oversized Super Guppy plane.
NASA officials loaded the
crated DPS onto the Super Guppy — via the plane’s hinged nose — at
Mather Airport near Aerojet’s Sacramento facility.

At a ceremony at Aerojet, Matt Drutt, Aerojet X-38 program manager,
commended the team’s “dedication, patience and perseverance” in achieving this
major milestone for Aerojet.
He presented plaques to nearly 100 people who
worked on the program.

“The key to success was a fundamentally sound program plan,” said
“This delivery is the latest addition to Aerojet’s heritage of support
to NASA, following programs such as the Space Shuttle OMS engines, which have
had 100 percent flight success, and the NEAR propulsion system.
Soon, we will
add the MESSENGER program to the long historical line of successful products
we have provided to NASA for space transportation.”

After the DPS is mated to the X-38 at JSC, NASA will conduct acceptance
testing, followed by system integration, combined structural testing and other
testing leading up to a flight test possibly in late 2004 or early 2005.

For the flight test, a Space Shuttle will carry the X-38 into space.
of the DPS structure is an interface to lock the vehicle in place in the
Shuttle’s cargo bay.
At an altitude near the Space Station, the Shuttle’s
robotic arm will lift the X-38 out of the bay and release it.
Except for a
crash dummy named Edgar, the X-38 will be unmanned.
(It’s designed for seven
Once the two spacecrafts are at a safe distance, the DPS will
fire in a calculated deorbit burn to bring the X-38 out of orbit.
will fire its eight thrusters for approximately 30-45 minutes during descent.
When the X-38 begins to reenter the atmosphere, the DPS will jettison and burn
The X-38, with Edgar at the helm, will glide to a remote-controlled
parachute landing, possibly in Australia.

Aerojet developed the DPS under a $23 million contract with NASA.
X-38 completed its highest, fastest and longest flight on Dec. 13, 2001, at
NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
In the eighth
large-scale flight test for the program, the X-38 was released from a
NASA B-52 aircraft at an altitude of 45,000 feet and landed successfully.

Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, is a world-recognized aerospace and
defense leader principally serving the missile and space propulsion, and
defense and armaments markets.
Aerojet’s Web site address is